The Instant Pot is touted as a miracle appliance that can make everything from beef stew to yogurt. The Instant Pot combines several functions and reduces cook time. They’ve become a popular item with home cooks needing more versatility from their appliances.
You’re no doubt reading this because you’ve seen some of these impressive features. Maybe you’re just a little unsure of which model to get. We don’t blame you – with so many choices on the market, it’s difficult to narrow down your options.
There’s no need to worry. We’ve done the legwork to find the best pressure cooker on the market today. In our quest for the best, we narrowed the list down to the top five.
Want a sneak peek at the results for the best pressure cookers?
Of course you do:
- Top Choice Pressure Cooker: Instant Pot Duo Plus
- Great Starter Model: Instant Pot Duo
- New Parents Will Love: Instant Pot Duo Plus
- Chefs Will Love: Instant Pot Ultra
- The Smartest Gadget: Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi
Want to know how we selected these different models? Read on and find out.
What Is an Instant Pot?
In basic terms, an Instant Pot is a device capable of cooking food under high pressure. Unlike a regular cooking pot, no steam can escape from the interior. The build-up of steam in the Instant Pot increases the heat, and food cooks more quickly.
Modern pressure cookers have several safety features that make them far safer than their predecessors. They also have other features that come in handy, including:
- Yogurt maker
- Slow cooking
- Sauté pot
- Rice cooker
- Food warmer
The Top Five Models for the Home Chef Today
Instant Pot Duo
- Replaces seven standard appliances
- Has 14 pre-set settings
- You may select high or low stovetop pressure
- Includes a yogurt-making setting
- No sterilization settings
- No preset to make hard-boiled eggs or bake cakes
The Instant Pot started it all. It was the first genuinely multi-functional kitchen appliance for cooking. Today the brand has built a reputation for trustworthiness and good value, and this simple but versatile model earns our top spot.
The new Instant Pot comes in 3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart sizes. The 6-quart Instant Pot is a good size for most homes. Upgrade to the 8-quart unit if you have space and like to meal prep.
The additional functions include:
- Slow Cook
- Delay Start
The construction is solid, with a stainless-steel inner. The bottom of the pot has three layers to distribute heat evenly.
The delay start is a handy function. Prepare the ingredients for your recipes early, and then add them to the pot. Set the delay so that cooking starts when you choose. This is, for example, useful when you need to cook quinoa for 20 minutes but have cuts of meat roasting in the oven for 40 minutes.
Instant Pot Duo Plus
- More sophisticated than the Duo
- Has sterilization and keep warm functions
- Perfect for meal prep
- 9-in-1 appliance ideal for busy parents
- Cooks for a maximum of four hours
New parents will appreciate the sterilization feature of the Duo Plus. Load up your baby’s bottles and blast them. Alternatively, use it to gently warm the baby’s milk. The backlit display makes it easy to set up even when you’re bleary-eyed from early morning feedings.
You can also clean jars for canning and pasteurize milk, so it’s ideal for those on a farm.
Unlike with the Duo, you can use it for baking cakes and boiling eggs. Unlike the Lux, you may edit the pressure level. The appliance even allows you to do so without canceling the current cycle.
Instant Pot Ultra
- 21 temperature settings allow you to play Master Chef
- 10-in-1 appliance
- Has 16 pre-programmed settings
- Simple-to-use with large dials
- Not ideal for beginners
People who love to personalize their recipes should enjoy this unit. Instant Pot has pulled out all the stops to make sure that there are endless customizations. Home cooks can even adjust their recipes for altitude on the Instant Pot, making this smart little appliance a winner.
However, you need to know that this Instant Pot is one of the most advanced models. It has several features, including a cake maker and egg maker. While this offers you a lot of options, beginners may find these features confusing or unnecessary.
Getting used to the different temperature settings takes a little time, but it’s easy to set the Instant Pot and release the pressure. Unlike the Duo Plus, the machine will work up to 6 hours at a stretch. You should be able to slow-cook most cuts of meats within that period.
Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi
- Control through the Instant Pot app on your phone or through Alexa voice
- 8-in-1 appliance
- Has 13 pre-programmed settings
- Can cook a chicken in 10 minutes
- The future of the Instant Pot with a price to match
- You have to register to use the WI-Fi feature
- Only available in a 6-quart model
Do people need Instant Pot models that we can control by voice or remotely? Probably not, but you have to admit that it takes this multi-cooker to a new level. You can also use button operation if you prefer, so there’s an out for technophobes here.
It’s not as customizable as the Ultra, but it’s more affordable. It’s also one of the few pots capable of baking. People with babies might find the Duo or Duo Plus more useful if they need to sterilize bottles.
- Well-made and sturdy
- Ceramic-coated inner pot makes it as easy to clean after using as a crock pot
- Includes an air fryer function
- A reversible rack allows more control over food position
- Requires a lot of headroom while in use
- The crisper lid doesn’t come right off
- Doesn’t come with as many recipes as an Instant Pot
Foodi kitchen appliances from Shark are very similar to the models we’ve already reviewed. They’re ideal for when you need to reduce overall cook time.
They do include a slow cooker rice feature, but what’s most exciting is the air fryer feature. You can make a perfectly tender pot roast and then crisp the outer layer to perfection.
The display is easy to read, and it’s easy to see through which cooking stage it’s in. Instant Pots can be tricky because it’s hard to tell when it’s time for the steam release. The Foodi displays how much time is left and whether it has reached pressure or not.
The feature makes it easy for the home chef to know when to engage the steam release valve. It also comes with an extremely detailed manual. If you don’t know how to use pressure cookers, you’ll find the instructions invaluable.
With all these features, why didn’t the Foodi take top honors?
To start with, it’s a big machine and requires a fair amount of counter space. While it’s helpful to have a pot and air fryer in one, the logistics don’t work in small kitchens.
While Instant Pots have detachable lids, the Foodi’s crisping lid is attached. When you pressure cook, you must leave the crisper lid open and add the pressure lid. That means you can’t tuck these kitchen appliances under a cabinet on your counter while in use.
The design is also squatter than that of the Instant Pots. As a home chef, you can fit more items in width-wise. Another downside is that the standard accessories from Instant Pots won’t work with this pot.
- More elegant and easier to use than the Foodi
- 8-quart capacity
- Has a crisping basket
- Includes dehydrating function
- Makes yogurt
- Very bulky pot with a short cord
- High price tag
If you’re feeding an army, this large-capacity instant pot model might be suitable for you. We love that you can:
- Pressure cook
- Make slow cooker rice
- Dehydrate food
- Air fry
- Roast veggies and various cuts of meat
You need to know that these kitchen appliances knock the socks off of an Instant Pot if you have space. It’s a valuable tool to reduce cooking time and has every cooking function you might want.
The crisping basket holds a chicken of up to 7 pounds, and you can use it when you pressure cook. The auto shut-off feature means that you don’t have to make sure that you watch the clock. The instant pot will switch off the heat as soon as the cooking time is over. The sealing ring is black, making it easy to ensure it’s properly sealed.
Another thing you need to know is that this model is bulkier than its predecessor and many other Instant Pots. It’s heavy, and you have the same issues with the lids.
When air-frying, you must also ensure that the unit is a reasonable distance from the wall. It gives off a lot of heat out the back on this setting.
The Instant Pot still takes top honors as a reliable and convenient brand of pressure cookers. The Shark Ninja range is sneaking in to steal the title, however. While we find it a little bulky, many people are willing to live with that because of the features.
Now that you know all you need to about the top instant pots, it’s up to you to decide on the next step. Where will your pressure-cooking journey take you? Is there an Instant Pot or a Ninja in your future?
Isabelle is a freelance writer. Her two big passions are food and stories.